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THE WAY OF WATER at Ball State University

By Wendy Mortimer, Director and Associate Professor

When Caridad invited us to be part of the International Reading Scheme, I immediately said, "Yes." Because it was Caridad. The way she uses language to explore and reveal the edges of human relationships, our relationship to the earth and to our ancestors resonates in ways that are universal. Add to this the possibility of offering a strong example of theatre for social change, and adding our voices to the larger global issue of the right to access of clean water... and it seemed like the perfect storm.
Due to limited resources and an already overloaded production calendar, we opted for the reading to reach the university community rather than focus on outreach to the local community. The reading was simple, with actors using only the language to bring the characters and their unimaginable realities to life in the space between each other and the audience. 
The many actors, directors, designers, stage managers, theatre education majors that attended the reading were shocked to hear about the ramifications of the efforts of the "clean-up" and struggled to match this new knowledge with what they'd been reading in the papers. 
Since the reading, students have been asking about how they can be a part of NoPassport and other socially aware theatre movements. And though the reading didn't reach into the larger community, it was heartening to hear students respond so fully to the writing, articulating how the imagery, truth, and depth is the type of text they'd like to work with. To a generation of actors that tends to focus on getting cast more on giving back, this proved to be a project that planted seeds in every single young artist in the audience... of what theatre can do, what it can reveal, the action it can inspire. This reading allowed students to look with new eyes at the country they thought they knew. There are ripples now where the water was once still. 
And that is a great, great thing here in rural Indiana. 
I cannot thank NoPassport enough for this piece, their extreme generosity in opening it up to the community in the form of this reading scheme, and for the development of a company with a laudable mission statement. 
I look forward to future reading schemes that will undoubtedly allow us to create more interdisciplinary relationships and also reach into the local community. 
In regards to the actors involved, it is the strongest work I've ever seen them do. The rhythms in the text, the intricacies in the relationships both onstage and when speaking of ancestors brought out in the actors a vibrancy that held the audience for the entire length of the reading. It was thrilling to see/hear them soar - focusing only on the language (no light cues, set, sound - just the words into the space). 
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the opportunity to reach towards the upcoming generation of BFA students - for broadening their definition of possibility in the arts.
The Way of Water by Caridad Svich, was read at Ball State University on April 23rd, 2012, directed by Wendy Mortimer.